I hadn’t planned on racing in between Race to the King and Race to the Stones. I didn’t know what recovery would be like so I didn’t want to commit to anything. When I was told about an early morning race on a Friday between them I was a little unsure at first – I’d need to get into town, park, get to the start, race, get back to my car, get home, and then get ready for work as normal. Even with an 05:30 start it could be a close one.
This race was without race numbers – the stewards would identify all runners by them wearing the purpose Sunrise City t-shirt. It was compulsory for them to be worn so must be collected before the race. They gave the chance for tees to be collected on the Thursday between 10am and 4pm, but for anyone that works, especially outside of the city – this is impossible. This meant I’d need to collect my tee before the race on the Friday, but then I’d have a spare tee with me after changing – and they state there’s no baggage drop either. What are we supposed to do with spare tees?!
When I realised this I tried to contact them, but the contact page on their website was throwing a “404 Not Found” error. I tried again later in the day and it finally worked – so sent my query via both Twitter and their contact form. They didn’t answer though – perhaps because they had no answer. So I decided I wouldn’t be doing another of their events in future. Harsh decision, and I know this race is only a bit of fun as it’s not timed, but they could have had the courtesy to at least reply to the email or the tweet. Maybe the event would change my mind.
To get to the race in time I got up at 04:00 and headed to Victoria Park for the start. At registration I got my tee and although they said they shouldn’t – they agreed to hold on to the tee I was wearing until the finish. Not long before the start I saw @jen_f16 – another #ukrunchat runner and spoke briefly. When it was time to start I found myself at the very front for the first time ever.
As the race started I set off a little quicker than I normally would, keeping me at the front of the race for the first 100 metres, and forcing the lead cyclist to peddle faster before slowing to my intended pace. I was overtaken pretty quickly and from then on he led the race behind the cyclist as we went down New Walk. After about half a mile I glanced behind me and could see another runner not that far behind me so I decided to push harder whilst it was downhill instead of taking it “easy” like I’d planned. I was very thirsty though, and a little hungry – perhaps a fasted run wasn’t the best of ideas.
For the road crossings down New Walk they had marshals to stop the traffic so runners could cross, and at the bottom of New Walk there was also one to direct runners to the right. This then goes through roadworks and fortunately a marshal pointed me in the right direction through them as I hadn’t spotted the arrow. As I got through them and approached the Turkey Cafe I found the person who was leading the race was now in front of the cyclist so I stayed behind the cyclist for the remainder of the race.
As I ran passed the Highcross Shopping Centre I realised that the person who was in third place was dropping further back, so decided I could ease off a little and maybe take some of the corners wide. I took the corner near the old fashioned sweet shop very wide just because I was following the cyclist. I was feeling good about the race, and it was nice for the marshals to be cheering too. In fact, the marshal support for this run was really good.
For the pedestrianised road that led back to New Walk I saw runners going in the opposite direction – some of which were being heckled by people that were either still drunk from a long night, or already drunk from an early start. For New Walk I was prepared to slow down and take it easy.
As I got to the top of New Walk I walked for about five seconds and the person behind overtook. I thought I’d be able to overtake again on the finishing straight but that didn’t quite go according to plan. Where the road bends passed the entrance to the park a marshal stopped the traffic for us, but a white car went passed the first car in the queue and drove straight passed the marshal – unwilling to wait for a few seconds. I had to stop completely as the car passed and I never managed to get back up to speed before I finished.
I finished third and was handed a medal pretty much straight away, and then directed over to the water table. I shook hands with the first and second place finishers, and grabbed a bottle of water. I picked up my discarded t-shirt from earlier, and then realised I’d forgotten to stop my running watch. I’d got no idea what I actually finished in, but estimating it based upon the pace graph in Strava it looks like it’d be around 19:03. Not too bad for a fasted run before work I guess.
The race turned out to be better than I expected, and actually quite fun – perhaps I might just do this one again in future as it’s nice to go through Leicester whilst the streets are mostly empty. It also made me realise that perhaps I might just be capable of a sub-19 time at Parkrun in the near future. Since this one, although not quite 5K in distance by my watch, was done with a brief stop and I almost made it to my 5K goal time.
The medal isn’t too bad either – it may have been badly scratched but it’s one which has a disk that spins around to change between night and day – a very cool idea. From there I got back to my car as quickly as possible so I could get home to shower and have breakfast before my cycle commute into work.